Industrial internet applications: cases and experiences
Taneli Tikka, serial entrepreneur and Head of Industrial Internet start up at Tieto Corporation is involved in several projects within tech and the Internet of Things. As more and more companies are interested in implementing Industrial Internet applications, Tikka is one of the few experts that can cite successful cases and share his experiences on working and experimenting with industrial internet applications.
According to Tikka, corporations are divided into three categories in regards of interest, implementation and use of industrial internet. Category number one are the pioneers, innovators and early adapters that have been developing Industrial Internet applications for the past ten years or so. Category two is in the middle of the three categories in regards of level of implementation, having started trials and testing of said applications within the span of three years or so. Group three on the other hand has not begun any kind of implementation.
“Fortunately, I am happy to say that the least amount of bigger Nordic corporations are in category three, whereas category two holds the large majority,” Tikka said.
Industrial internet can bring significant change to the corporate culture and business model. If a corporation decides to utilize and benefit from industrial internet, they have to learn how to handle and act in a more diverse business environment that includes employees with multiple roles. From developers to electronics experts amongst other types of people in the mix. These employees have not normally been part of the staff on the factory floor. In order to successfully implement Industrial Internet to the company’s business model, cooperation between all of these is essential. Especially when designing and implementing the user experience (UX):
“Creating an optimal UX needs insights gathered from the people working on the frontlines, so to speak. They especially have to take part in improving the UX more than ever before. Because once these systems become standardized; technically advanced, user-friendly and intelligent systems will be superior. When the apex of productivity has been reached, the UX’s importance grows more significant,” Tikka added.
Industrial Internet applications should create added value
Tikka pointed out that a lot of applications so far have been safety-related, yet some applications might not be as smart as they should, considering the operational context, such as smart-clothing on oilrigs. If trackers are installed on overalls and an emergency happens in the middle of the night, then the most natural smart device fulfilling the purpose would instead be a wristband. However, there are excellent cases as well, the first is from a major welding manufacturer:
“When the apex of productivity has been reached, the UX’s importance grows more significant.”
“The solution is a background system linked with the user interface, so when the welder arrives to work and logs into the system, the machine and the database authenticates him and provides the welder with all the information needed. By all information I mean everything: when was the machine last used, by whom, for how long, which core wire was used, from which manufacturer and on top of all from which mine the material of the core wire was mined from.”
All of the data is useful in a situation where a client has welded 200 nautical miles of gas pipes and they suddenly receive information from the core wire manufacturer that one of the batches of core wire delivered and used is faulty. This would in a normal case mean that the client would have to lift and inspect every piece of pipe welded to find the faulty product. With the system, the piece would be immediately identified based on the data provided by the database.
Uniqueness through strategic self-awareness
The second case mentioned by Tikka is from a large American automotive company:
“The company provides delivery cars for a client and uses an analytical component as a real-time monitoring system for the cars’ technical functions. One of the monitored functions is the voltmeter and fluctuation of the car battery. By observing irregularities in the car battery, the automotive company can identify if any malfunctions are about to happen and if the car is about to lose power. Because of the data the automotive company has, they can give extraordinary service in the form of pre-emptive field-repairs,” Tikka noted.
Simply put, the automotive company knows the client’s delivery routes and they can access the contact details of the drivers. This means that they can meet the driver at an agreed location to repair the vehicle and thus make it possible for the driver to continue their route. In this case the analytical component provides with added value in a situation where the client would not have had a clue that there was a problem. According to Tikka, this is the most salient part of industrial internet right now:
“Finding unique added value through data and analytics is the hottest thing in Industrial Internet right now. I can’t come up with a single good case in Industrial Internet that has not used analytics in any single way.”
For an organization to succeed with the help of industrial internet, it needs to know its own strategy, goals and think how these goals could be achieved. That is the situation and the strategic opportunity where a possible industrial internet product could be implemented. In most corporations, the problem is usually the lack of knowledge and competence. Tikka’s key advice would be to do the background work in one’s own calm pace while trying to figure out any possible applications:
“When the ground work has been done I strongly encourage to begin testing the applications! As long as the tests are not for one single application, but multiple and different types of applications with support of multiple hypotheses. Industrial Internet is such a new thing that there is not really “a general solution” to anything. That is why we need more of an iterative approach. A fast-cycled trial and error process. Businesses need more and more courage in looking for new solutions,” Tikka concludes.
Taneli Tikka is the Head of Industrial Internet start up at Tieto Corporation
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